26. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain American Republic Posts1

1479. In late 1964 President Castello Branco invited President Johnson to visit Rio de Janeiro. Subsequently other Latin American Chiefs of State have also extended invitations to President Johnson.

President Johnson has suggested to President Castello Branco that in view of pressures on time of all Presidents, this might be good opportunity for all ten Presidents of South America and President Johnson to have informal meeting without agenda under circumstances which would permit each President to exchange views with every other President. GOB has welcomed this suggestion and has requested US to inform governments of nine South American republics of US proposal.

Precedents for group meetings of this kind include meeting of all Chiefs of State of Inter-American system in Panama in 1956 and President Kennedy’s meeting with Presidents of Panama and five Central American countries in 1963.

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Plans are that Presidents would arrive Rio April 28 or early morning 29th. April 29 and April 30 would be used for informal conversations without agenda by each President with other Presidents present on any topics of hemisphere or world interest which Presidents wished to discuss. Purpose of meeting would be to permit Presidents to become better personally acquainted with each other and with each other’s views rather than to have more formalized type of meeting. All discussions would be off the record.

Our thoughts are that similar meeting could be held with Chiefs of State in Middle America later this year or in 1966.

We hope other Presidents will share our view that such a meeting would be useful and have been authorized by GOB to state that invitations will be extended by President Castello Branco to all South American Chiefs of State who wish to attend.

Please inform President or Foreign Minister of foregoing and report reaction soonest.

Information addressees should take no action at this time.2

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 3 IA. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Mann; cleared by Sayre, Adams, Weismann, Read, and Chief of Protocol Lloyd N. Hand; and approved by Mann. Sent for action to the Embassies in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
  2. On February 24 Mann raised the proposed trip with the President, particularly in light of unauthorized newspaper accounts. Mann suspected that the leak had come from “Latin American diplomats in Washington who were always anxious to talk to the press.” The President wondered if the trip could be postponed; “the more he thought about it the more he felt it would be taking a lot of chances and not accomplishing much.” Johnson suggested “that the Secret Service could say that they did not think now was a good time for the President to be traveling around. He did not think it would be good for a doctor to make the statement, but he thought that the Secret Service could.” (Johnson Library, Papers of Thomas C. Mann, Telephone Conversations with LBJ, January 14, 1964–April 30, 1965) On March 7 the Department reported that “new developments in the international scene, particularly in Viet Nam, have made it necessary for President Johnson to defer consideration of possible visits to this hemisphere.” (Telegram 836 to Buenos Aires, et al., March 7; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 3 IA) At 8 p.m. the same day two Marine Battalion Landing Teams, the first American combat troops in Vietnam, arrived to defend the air base at Danang.